Teachers, students work to prevent 'Doomsday' layoffs in Philadelphia

June 14, 2013 2:28:46 PM PDT
If Philadelphia City Council and the Pennsylvania State legislature don't take action in the next 16 days, the Philadelphia School District's so-called 'Doomsday Budget' will take effect.

That means the 3783 layoffs announced one week ago will happen.

But those who will be affected are trying all sorts of methods to prevent that.

Members of the Northeast High School band tried to send their message about the budget cuts to City Council using music. They staged a protest performance at Philadelphia City Hall earlier this week.

Meantime, a group of Philadelphia teachers is using the internet.

Two different groups, two different methods of trying to send the same message.

Laying off nearly 3800 Philadelphia School District employees in two weeks isn't just about numbers, it's about people.

People like Bartram High School's Anissa Weinraub, who's taught English for seven years.

"It's devastating and really destabilizing for myself, but also for my school, my school community, and the rest of my colleagues who were laid off," she said.

Weinraub is one of hundreds of men and women featured on the website Faces of the Layoffs.

If you click on the photos, you can read more about their contributions to the students at the schools where they work.

The site's founder says it's also a call to action.

"Each post is tagged immediately with a City Council member or state representative that people are encouraged to get in touch with," said Larissa Pahomov, an English teacher at the Science Leadership Academy.

Lots of staff from Northeast High School are on the site. The 3,000-student school is set to lose five assistant principals, 11 teachers, 22 support staff members and 8 secretaries.

The list includes history teacher Yaasiyn Muhammad, who also runs the Muslim Students Association and the Black Success Academy.

"I see my job as integral in the development of young people here at Northeast High School, and I'm really sad that I may be leaving," he told Action News.

Natalie Chatzistamatiz and Joanne Michalczyk are noontime aides with more than 20 years of experience between them.

"If a kid is having a problem, they come to us first," said Joanne.

They all say they're not leaving without a fight.

45 staff members from Northeast High are already planning to go to Harrisburg on June 25th to lobby for more funding.

They've filled one bus and will likely fill another with additional protestors.


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